South Africa named a full-strength team for Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash with New Zealand, featuring 12 changes to the starting XV that defeated Australia last week.
The side was always going to be vastly different to the one that downed Australia 35-17 after coach Rassie Erasmus sent his key players to Wellington early to prepare to face the world champions.
Only wing Makazole Mapimpi and forwards Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit survive from the starting line-up that triumphed in Johannesburg.
Veteran number eight Duane Vermeulen will lead the Boks in a match that sees both sides desperate to gain advantage ahead of their blockbuster World Cup opening match in Japan on September 21.
Erasmus said it was a sign of the respect South Africa had for the New Zealanders that they dispatched players in advance to acclimatise for Saturday’s fixture.
“The New Zealanders are a very experienced and settled side while we have some catching up to do in terms of where the two sides are at the moment,” he said.
Willie le Roux returns at fullback, with Cheslin Kolbe on the right wing opposite Mapimpi.
Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am join up again in the centres alongside a halves pairing of Handré Pollard and Faf de Klerk.
The back row comprises Vermeulen, du Toit and Kwagga Smith, behind a locking combination of Etzebeth and Franco Mostert.
Hulking hooker Malcolm Marx will pack down alongside Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe in the front row.
Scrum-half Herschel Jantjies, who scored two tries on debut against Australia, earned a spot on the bench.
Erasmus noted the Al Blacks also fielded a weakened team in last week’s win over Argentina and would welcome back players from the Super Rugby-winning Canterbury Crusaders.
“So we are in for a huge battle against the best team in the world,” he said.
South Africa (15-1)
Willie le Roux; Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi; Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Duane Vermeulen (capt), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Kwagga Smith; Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth; Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjies, Frans Steyn, Jesse Kriel.
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